“The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put thing in it.”
— Terry Pratchett
One way to create ideas for your writing that might take you and your readers in new and powerful directions is to practice keeping an open mind. This is a tremendous resource for any writer, one that is often overlooked. And yes, this might involve some risk taking on your part. (Don’t worry. I’m not talking about death-defying acts.)
Why is risk taking a good thing for a writer? Let’s call this building a foundation, a way to expand our horizons, to take a step off the cliff of what we call “life.”
When you are willing to take a risk, your mind is open to new possibilities. These risk takings and open mindedness are ways to move your ideas and your writing to new levels. When you are receptive to new ideas – new ways of seeing and doing and being – your stories and characters can move in directions you might not have considered before.
So, how do you work to keep an open mind so that you can take some risks with your writing? Here are some possibilities.
If you’re a talker, take some time to sit by and LISTEN to others. If you’ve mainly a listener, try asking a few questions instead of just thinking about them.
Every day, find a situation where you can learn something.
If your inner voice/critic is telling you that you are always right or wrong, refuse to listen to that voice. This is a way to keep you from learning. Don’t listen to that voice in this case. If you hear this inner voice/critic coming after you in this way, fight it away with QUESTIONS.
Listen to music that you’ve never experienced before.
Read a book that you wouldn’t have imagined you would possibly read.
Eat some new food.
Practice failing. That’s right – FAILING. And no, failing is not a waste of time or energy, because how else are you going to learn what works for you and what does not? Remember: Risk involves the possibility of failing.
If you don’t keep a journal, start one. To begin, focus on new ideas, new ways of being, and risks. See where this leads you.
Learn meditation, Tai Chi, which is often described as “meditation in motion,” or something else you’ve always wanted to learn, but haven’t. Now is the time.
Nurture your creativity in a different way. Draw, compose, paint, write poetry, play in a sand box, make collages with things from a nature walk, etc. Expand your horizons.
For your writing life, try the following:
Rewrite a section of a story from the POV of a nonhuman character.
Take a story ending and rewrite it three different ways from the original.
Pick a story idea and write a list of “what ifs.”
Take a scene from a story that features your protagonist and rewrite it as if the main character in the scene is a villain or antagonist.
Pick a previously written scene and drastically change the age of the POV character. How does this impact the story?
Take the beginning of a story you’ve written. Give it a new setting and a different mood.
Choose a scene where the POV character is reacting to some situation. Rewrite the scene with a different reaction.
Question for today: How might you keep an open mind to new possibilities? Share your plan!